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American Naturalism and the Jews

Garland, Norris, Dreiser, Wharton, and Cather

Donald Pizer

Otherwise known for their progressive social values, Hamlin Garland, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, and Willa Cather all also expressed strong anti-Semitic prejudices throughout their fiction, essays, letters, and other writings, producing a contradiction in American literary history that has stymied scholars and, until now, gone largely unexamined. In this breakthrough study, Donald Pizer confronts this disconcerting strain of anti-Semitism pervading American letters and culture, showing how these writers' racist impulses represented more than just personal biases, but resonated with larger social and ideological movements within American culture, including such various movements as the western farmers' populist revolt and the East Coast patricians' revulsion against immigration.

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American Politics and the Jewish Community

Jewish Role in American Life, Volume 11

edited by Dan Schnur

At its broadest level, politics is the practice of making a community a better, safer, and more tolerant place to live. So it should be of no surprise that America’s Jews have devoted themselves to civic engagement and the democratic process. From before the Revolutionary War to the early twenty-first century, when America saw the first Jewish vice presidential nominee of a major party and the first Jewish Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Jewish community has always devoted itself to public service, issue advocacy, and involvement in politics and government at every level. While strong support for the safety and security of the state of Israel has been a hallmark of US foreign policy since Israel’s founding, it is by no means the only policy area in which American Jews are involved. Nor are American Jews monolithic in their politics. Although the Jewish community has become a reliable part of the Democratic Party’s base in most partisan elections, American Jews represent a wide range of ideologies on most economic and foreign policy matters. In addition to becoming leaders in business and labor, in academia and in philanthropy, Jewish Americans have always helped shape the discussion over the issues that form the country’s future. In this volume, a mix of professors, graduate students, and lay people in the field of politics with a breadth of experience debate some central questions: Is Israel still the most important policy concern for American Jews? Why does the Jewish community vote Democratic in such overwhelming numbers? Can American Jews balance economic, security, and human rights concerns in a rapidly changing international community? And how will such profound transformations affect the role of America’s Jewish community as the United States seeks out its own role in domestic and global politics?

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American Reform Judaism

An Introduction

Dana Evan Kaplan

The only comprehensive and up-to-date look at Reform Judaism, this book analyzes the forces currently challenging the Reform movement, now the largest Jewish denomination in the United States.

To distinguish itself from Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the Reform movement tries to be an egalitarian, open, and innovative version of the faith true to the spirit of the tradition but nonetheless fully compatible with modern secular life. Promoting itself in this way, Reform Judaism has been tremendously successful in recruiting a variety of people—intermarried families, feminists, gays and lesbians, and interracial families among others—who resist more traditional forms of worship.

As an unintended result of this success, the movement now struggles with an identity crisis brought on by its liberal theology, which teaches that each Jew is free to practice Judaism more or less as he or she pleases. In the absence of the authority that comes from a theology based on a commanding, all-powerful God, can Reform Judaism continue to thrive? Can it be broadly inclusive and still be uniquely and authentically Jewish?

Taking this question as his point of departure, Dana Evan Kaplan provides a broad overview of the American Reform movement and its history, theology, and politics.  He then takes a hard look at the challenges the movement faces as it attempts to reinvent itself in the new millennium.  In so doing, Kaplan gives the reader a sense of where Reform Judaism has come from, where it stands on the major issues, and where it may be going.

 Addressing the issues that have confronted the movement—including the ordination of women, acceptance of homosexuality, the problem of assimilation, the question of rabbinic officiation at intermarriages, the struggle for acceptance in Israel, and Jewish education and others—Kaplan sheds light on the connection between Reform ideology and cultural realities. He unflinchingly, yet optimistically, assesses the movement’s future and cautions that stormy weather may be ahead. 

 

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And Peace Never Came

“It is Easter Sunday, April 1945, early in the morning, maybe just dawn. We stand still, like frozen grey statues. Us. Seven hundred and thirty women, wrapped in wet, grey, threadbare blankets, standing in the rain. Our blankets hang over our heads, drape down to the soil. We hold them closed with our hands from the inside, leaving only a small opening to peer out, so that we save the precious warmth of our breath.” (from Chapter 5)

So begins the author’s sojourn, her search for freedom that begins with the chaotic barrenness in which she found herself after her liberation on Easter Sunday, April 1945, and takes her across several continents and half a lifetime.

Raab paints a brief yet moving picture of her idyllic life before her internment and the shock and the horrors of Auschwitz, but it is in the images of life after her liberation, that Raab imparts her most poignant story — a story told in a clear, almost sparse, always honest style, a story of the brutal, and, at times, the beautiful facts of human nature.

This book will appeal to a number of audiences — to readers interested in human nature under the most trying circumstances, to historians of World War II or Jewish history, to veterans and their families who lived through World War II, and to those interested in politics and the evils of political extremism.

Shortlisted for the 1998 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-fiction.

Winner of the 1999 Jewish Book Committee award for best Holocaust memoir.

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The Andalusi Literary and Intellectual Tradition

The Role of Arabic in Judah ibn Tibbon's Ethical Will

S. J. Pearce

Beginning in 1172, Judah ibn Tibbon, who was called the father of Hebrew translators, wrote a letter to his son that was full of personal and professional guidance. The detailed letter, described as an ethical will, was revised through the years and offered a vivid picture of intellectual life among Andalusi elites exiled in the south of France after 1148. S. J. Pearce sets this letter into broader context and reads it as a document of literary practice and intellectual values. She reveals how ibn Tibbon, as a translator of philosophical and religious texts, explains how his son should make his way in the family business and how to operate, textually, within Arabic literary models even when writing for a non-Arabic audience. While the letter is also full of personal criticism and admonitions, Pearce shows ibn Tibbon making a powerful argument in favor of the continuation of Arabic as a prestige language for Andalusi Jewish readers and writers, even in exile outside of the Islamic world.

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Anne Frank Unbound

Media, Imagination, Memory

Edited by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Jeffrey Shandler

As millions of people around the world who have read her diary attest, Anne Frank, the most familiar victim of the Holocaust, has a remarkable place in contemporary memory. Anne Frank Unbound looks beyond this young girl's words at the numerous ways people have engaged her life and writing. Apart from officially sanctioned works and organizations, there exists a prodigious amount of cultural production, which encompasses literature, art, music, film, television, blogs, pedagogy, scholarship, religious ritual, and comedy. Created by both artists and amateurs, these responses to Anne Frank range from veneration to irreverence. Although at times they challenge conventional perceptions of her significance, these works testify to the power of Anne Frank, the writer, and Anne Frank, the cultural phenomenon, as people worldwide forge their own connections with the diary and its author.

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Anthonius Margaritha and the Jewish Faith

Jewish Life and Conversion in Sixteenth-Century Germany

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Anti-Jewish Violence

Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History

Edited by Jonathan Dekel-Chen, David Gaunt, Natan M. Meir, and Israel Bartal

Although overshadowed in historical memory by the Holocaust, the anti-Jewish pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were at the time unrivaled episodes of ethnic violence. Incorporating newly available primary sources, this collection of groundbreaking essays by researchers from Europe, the United States, and Israel investigates the phenomenon of anti-Jewish violence, the local and transnational responses to pogroms, and instances where violence was averted. Focusing on the period from World War I through Russia's early revolutionary years, the studies include Poland, Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, Crimea, and Siberia.

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Anti-Judaism, Antisemitism, and Delegitimizing Israel

Robert S. Wistrich

Although early Zionist thinkers perhaps naively believed that anti-Jewish persecution would end with sovereignty, anti-Zionism has become one form of the “new” antisemitism following World War II. Because antisemitism has not been effectively addressed, anti-Jewish rhetoric, activism, and deadly violence have flourished around the world.
               In Anti-Judaism, Antisemitism, and Delegitimizing Israel editor Robert S. Wistrich and an array of notable academics, journalists, and political scientists analyze multiple aspects of the current surge in anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric and violence. Contributors Ben Cohen, R. Amy Elman, Lesley Klaff, Matthias Küntzel, Nelly Las, Alvin H. Rosenfeld, and Efraim Sicher, among others, examine antisemitism from the perspectives of history, academia, gender, identity, and religion. Offering a variety of viewpoints and insights into disturbing trends worldwide, the contributors provide a basis for further discussion and increased efforts to counter the increasingly vocal and violent hatred of Jews and Israel.
 

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